Hearing Aid Compatibility

HAC Phones

Moncre offers the following phones that are HAC compliant:

  • Samsung U365/Gusto2 rated M4/T4
  • Kyocera Rio rated M4/T4

Levels of handset functionality and methodology for determining functionality are as follows:

  • Basic phones (entry-level devices with simple functionality)
  • Feature phones (devices with more advanced features and capabilities) and
  • Smartphone/PDAs (devices that run complete operating system software as a platform for application developers)

These handsets have been tested and rated for use with hearing aids for some of the wireless technologies that they use. However, there may be some newer wireless technologies used in these phones that have not been tested yet for use with hearing aids. It is important to try the different features of these phones thoroughly and in different locations, using your hearing aid or cochlear implant, to determine if you hear any interfering noise. Consult your service provider or the manufacturer of the handset for information on hearing aid compatibility. If you have questions about return or exchange policies, consult your service provider or phone retailer.

How can I tell which cell phones will likely work the best with my hearing aids?

I think what you are really asking is, “Which cell phones will not cause interference when I use them with my digital hearing aids (and/or cochlear implants)?”

As you may know, digital devices such as cell phones and computers give off various kinds of radio frequency and electromagnetic radiation. As a result, when you hold a cell phone (or other wireless device) up to your hearing aid or cochlear implant, you often hear annoying interference. This interference is typically a buzzing, humming, or whining noise that can make understanding speech difficult, if not impossible to understand, not to mention being extremely annoying. In severe cases, interference makes your cell phone completely unusable to you when you are wearing your hearing aids.

Fortunately for us here in the USA, in the last few years the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) has mandated that cell phones be rated as to how much interference they are likely to cause to hearing aids. The FCC’s hearing aid compatibility requirements address hearing aids that operate in either of two modes – acoustic coupling (“M” rating) or inductive coupling (“T” rating). Hearing aids operating in acoustic coupling mode receive through a microphone and then amplify all sounds surrounding the user, including both desired sounds, such as a telephone’s audio signal, and unwanted ambient noise. Hearing aids operating in inductive coupling mode turn off the microphone to avoid amplifying unwanted ambient noise, instead using a telecoil to receive only audio signal-based magnetic fields generated by inductive coupling-capable telephones. The FCC’s “M” and “T” ratings indicate whether a handset can be expected to function well with a hearing aid and are generally marked clearly on the handset packaging. The “M” or “T” rating does not guarantee that the handset will function without distortion or noise, so Moncre recommends that you test the handset before purchasing.

The rating scale ranges from 1 to 4. The four possibilities are: M1 or T1 (poor), M2 or T2 (fair), M3 or T3 (good) and M4 or T4 (excellent).

Only phones rated 3 or 4 are allowed to be sold as hearing aid compatible (HAC). Phones that would have only been rated 1 or 2 are deemed unacceptable.

“M” (acoustic coupling) Rating

Since September 2005, cell phone companies have been required to provide several models of cell phones that are rated as being hearing aid compatible when used with hearing aids in the standard microphone setting (M3 or M4).

Thus, if you use your cell phone while wearing your hearing aids in the microphone (“M”) mode, look for one that is rated M3 or M4. (M4 is better.) This does not guarantee that these phones will be interference-free with your specific hearing aids. However, the higher the rating, the less likely you will be to experience interference. Also, note that just because a cell phone is not rated does not mean it will cause interference–they may or may not–but unrated phones are much more likely to do so. (How much interference a cell phone causes depends to a large extent on the transmission technology used: i.e. CDMA, iDEN, TDMA or GSM with CDMA being the best and GSM the worst.)

“T” (inductive coupling) Rating

Since September 18, 2006, cell phone companies have been required to provide several cell phones that are rated as being hearing aid compatible when used in t-coil mode (T3 or T4).

Therefore, if you use your cell phone while wearing your hearing aids in t-coil (“T”) mode, look for a phone that is rated T3 or T4. (T4 is better.) Again, this will not guarantee that these phone will be interference-free when using your t-coils, but the higher the rating, the less likely it is that you will experience interference.

Note that phones rated as T3 or T4 must also be rated either M3 or M4. Therefore, phones rated as good for t-coils will also have been rated good when used with hearing aids in the microphone mode.

Possible Ratings for Rated Phones

There are only 6 possible ratings allowed by the FCC for cell phones rated as being hearing aid compatible (HAC). The phone could be rated (from worst to best):

M3
M4
M3/T3
M4/T3 (or M3/T4)
M4/T4

Phones rated M4/T4 have the best chance of being interference-free whether used with your hearing aids in microphone or t-coil mode.

Wireless Phones With Wifi

All phones have been tested and rated for use with hearing aids for some of the wireless technologies they use. However, there may be some newer wireless technologies used in phones that have not been tested yet for use with hearing aids. It is important to try the different features of phones thoroughly and in different locations, using your hearing aid or cochlear implant, to determine if you hear any interfering noise. Consult your service provider or the manufacturer for information on hearing aid compatibility. If you have questions about return or exchange policies, consult your service provider or phone retailer.